The meaning ‘Teerthankar’ is one who establishes a path or ford. There where 24 THE Teerthankars according Jainism. However we get detailed historical only about 4 of them namely Rishabh,Neminath,Parshwanath & Mahavir.
1) Rishabh : Rishabh dev was the first Teerthankar. He was son of Nabhiray & Marudevi. It was a period of civilization of the people. Rishabh thought many things to people which were very useful for the society. He taught Marshal Art, Farming,Writing and many other techniques. He was fore father of all warrior communities. He renounced the worldly things and went to jungle to get true knowledge. He attained Keval Gyan and then started to give sermons.
Bharat, his elder son became Chakravarti (emperor of the world) by winning other kingdoms. The popular name of India ‘Bharat’ is kept because of this Bharat. Many hindu purans including Shrimad-Bhagavat confirms this fact.
Full details of Rishabh dev and Bharat are available in Adipuran and Mahapuran of Jinsenacharya and Shrimad-Bhagavat.
2) Neminath : Neminath was the 22nd Teerthankar. He was born at Mathura and was cousin of ShriKrishna .They were at Mathura but the Jarasandh was attacking Mathura again and again. So they and all the Yadavs went to Dwarika in Gujrat.
One day before Neminath’s marriage he saw many cattle going to slaughter house.he asked about it to ShriKrishna told “The cattle are for lunch of guests coming for your marriage” this was shocking thing for Neminath. He rejected to marry and went to jungle in search of truth.
Meanwhile Jarasandth attacked Dwarika. At that time ShriKrishna was not at Dwarika.
Leaderless Yadavs went to Neminath and asked him to command the army to counter attack on Jarasandth. Neminath returned to the capital and lead the army he defeated the Jarasandh.
Neminath again returned to jungle and got the truth. After getiing Keval gyan, he established the ford. He attained Nirvan at Girnar in Gujrath.
Biography of Neminath is available in Harivanshpuran